Ap­ple could use Brook­lyn case to pur­sue iPhone hack

The Pak Banker - - COMPANIES/BOSS -

If the U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice asks a New York court to force Ap­ple Inc to un­lock an iPhone, the tech­nol­ogy com­pany could push the gov­ern­ment to re­veal how it ac­cessed the phone which be­longed to a shooter in San Bernardino, a source familiar with the situation said. The Jus­tice Depart­ment will dis­close over the next two weeks whether it will con­tinue with its bid to com­pel Ap­ple to help ac­cess an iPhone in a Brook­lyn drug case, ac­cord­ing to a court fil­ing on Tues­day.

The Jus­tice Depart­ment this week with­drew a sim­i­lar re­quest in Cal­i­for­nia, say­ing it had suc­ceeded in un­lock­ing an iPhone used by one of the shoot­ers in­volved in a ram­page in San Bernardino in De­cem­ber with­out Ap­ple's help.

The le­gal dis­pute be­tween the U.S. gov­ern­ment and Ap­ple has been a high-pro­file test of whether law en­force­ment should have ac­cess to en­crypted phone data.

Ap­ple, sup­ported by most of the tech­nol­ogy in­dus­try, says any­thing that helps au­thor­i­ties by­pass se­cu­rity fea­tures will un­der­mine se­cu­rity for all users. Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials say that all kinds of crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions will be crip­pled with­out ac­cess to phone data.

Pros­e­cu­tors have not said whether the San Bernardino tech­nique would work for other seized iPhones, in­clud­ing the one at is­sue in Brook­lyn. Should the Brook­lyn case con­tinue, Ap­ple could pur­sue le­gal dis­cov­ery that would po­ten­tially force the FBI to re­veal what tech­nique it used on the San Bernardino phone, the source said. A Jus­tice Depart­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tive did not have im­me­di­ate com­ment.

In a state­ment, Ap­ple said "we don't know" the FBI's tech­ni­cal so­lu­tion, which ven­dor de­vel­oped it or "what it al­legedly achieves."

A fed­eral mag­is­trate in Brook­lyn last month ruled that he did not have au­thor­ity to or­der Ap­ple to dis­able the se­cu­rity of an iPhone seized dur­ing a drug in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The Jus­tice Depart­ment then ap­pealed to a dis­trict court judge.

Af­ter fil­ing that ap­peal, U.S. pros­e­cu­tors no­ti­fied the mag­is­trate in the San Bernardino case that a third party had demon­strated a new tech­nique which could ac­cess the iPhone in ques­tion.

The Jus­tice Depart­ment dis­closed the new tech­nique to the judge one day af­ter the demon­stra­tion, and then con­firmed its suc­cess on Mon­day, ac­cord­ing to court fil­ings, though it did not re­veal how its so­lu­tion works.

The U.S. gov­ern­ment did not dis­close any de­tails in a let­ter to the Brook­lyn judge on Tues­day. In­stead, pros­e­cu­tors only agreed with a re­quest by Ap­ple to de­lay brief­ing dead­lines in the case, and said it would up­date the court by April 11 as to whether it would "mod­ify" its own re­quest for Ap­ple's as­sis­tance.

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